Music

‘We’re Like Athletes Here’: The Maestro With a Gym Habit

“We make sacrifices,” he added, “because what we do is a precious thing.”

After nearly a year and a half of pandemic-mandated cancellations, Viotti wanted to start the new season in Amsterdam with a jolt, he said. The city has been his anticipating his arrival since the Dutch National Opera’s artistic director, Sophie de Lint, announced his appointment in 2019.

“Lorenzo was very much in demand, so we had to be fast,” de Lint said in an interview. “He really is one of the most gifted conductors of today. On top of that, he is an unbelievable ambassador for opera, and classical music in general.”

Viotti was born into a musical family in Lausanne, Switzerland. One of his sisters, Marina Viotti, is a mezzo-soprano, and the other, Milena, is a professional horn player, as is his brother, Alessandro. Their father, Marcello Viotti, was the chief conductor of the Munich Radio Orchestra and the music director of Teatro La Fenice in Venice when he died in 2005, at 50.

Viotti was 14 at the time. “As a child, I don’t have a lot of memories of him at work, but I learned a lot from him as a man, as a dad,” he said. “We did scuba diving together, gardening together, playing football. Those to me are the most important memories. The conducting memories are not important.”

As well as classical, Viotti was exposed to a wide range of musical styles growing up, he said, including hip-hop, rap, funk and soul. He tried his hand at many instruments, studying piano, viola and percussion, and singing in a choir.

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